Speaking The Truth In Love

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I recently wrote two different blogs on the topic of bullying: “Christian Bullying” and “The Bully In The Closet”.  As I asked some friends for their in-put concerning the blogs, one friend raised a question that had been weighing on my heart/mind as well.  She asked, “When do we speak truth?”

The purpose of this blog is an attempt to address the other part of the equation when it comes to handling matters of disagreement or error in relationships.

“Is it okay to speak truth?”

“When is it okay to speak ‘truth’ to one another?”

“How should we speak truth to one another?”

I am not a pastor or Bible scholar so I am not the most qualified person to address these issues.  I am sure there are those much more gifted and qualified to address this topic.

For those who can wade through “murkier” waters, here are some thoughts…

[I am going to try to keep my thoughts succinct because my husband tells me my blogs are too long.  :-)]

To answer the question, “Is it okay to speak truth?”, I looked up a number of verses in the Bible in reference to truth:

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

John 8:32

and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 16:13

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

The Bible establishes that there is truth.  We can believe and live according to the clear guidance of Truth. 

The Bible also makes it clear that deception is prevalent and easy to believe.

The key to knowing the Truth is to listen to the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will guide us into truth.  God’s Word will speak Truth, and the Holy Spirit will help us to understand the Truth.

Can Christians be deceived?  Yes!  We live still in sinful bodies so naturally at times we will revert to our sinful nature instead of walking in the control of the Holy Spirit.

The first priority of order is for us to be led by the Holy Spirit in discerning truth.  We need to be spending our time studying and searching the Scriptures so we understand truth.  If truth comes from God, we must know what God says.

In order to accurately know truth, we have to determine to seek the truth regardless of the result(s).  We cannot try to fit the Scriptures around our own personal beliefs and opinions.

So, “When is it okay to speak ‘truth’ to one another?”

Just as we must be led by the Spirit to discern truth, so we must be led by the Spirit to speak it.  Christians are to be “Spirit-led” or “Spirit-controlled.”  So often, we allow the flesh to control us and wonder why we get fleshly responses or reactions to our words. 

John 6:63 – It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.

“Darkness” is the diminishing or absence of light, depending on where you live.  There is a “reaction” when light enters a dark room.  The darkness disappears and everything that was unclear is illuminated.

When truth is spoken, there will be a response.  The key is to make sure the response is not a reaction to our own attempts to confront a “problem” that we see.

Many times, there is a negative reaction between Christians.  There are several possible reasons for this:

One, the individual speaking the “truth” is not waiting on God’s guidance and timing so the hearer is not prepared to receive the truth at that time.

Two, the individual hearing the truth has hardened their heart and will not receive the truth.

Jeremiah 18:12

“But they will say, `It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Hardened-Hearts#sthash.mPrppzDP.dpuf

Mark 8:17 – And when Jesus knew [it], he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?

Proverbs 29:1 (Viewing the King James Version. Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of Proverbs 29:1.): He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Three, the manner in which truth was spoken was incorrect.
Ephesians 4:15 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.   (Read More…)
Fourth, truth was spoken in the wrong context.  This “context” does not refer to word context but to relational context.  Sometimes, God is asking us first to establish a relationship with the person before we ever attempt to speak “truth”.

Proverbs 27:6 (KJV): Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

No person should tell another individual what they must say and when they must say it.  Only the Holy Spirit should direct.  If the Holy Spirit isn’t leading and speaking through us, our efforts are vain and pointless.  Only the Holy Spirit can convict and change hearts and lives.

If we see error and wonder if we should confront it, we should keep in mind these guidelines:

“Is it clearly stated in Scripture?”

“Is God clearly prompting us to speak or share these truths?”

“Is God showing us it’s the right timing?”

“What is our motivation for speaking?”

“Do we have the right relationship with this person to speak truth?”

“What is the manner with which we are speaking truth?”

The goal in speaking truth should stem from love for that person and a desire to see them walk in the freedom of truth. 

Jesus loved His enemies and died for them!  The least we can do is love our fellow sinners and show them Jesus’ love.

Ephesians 4:15 (New King James Version)

“But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—”

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The Bully In The Closet

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There’s a lot of interest right now in the topic of “bullying.”  In fact, I recently wrote an article on “Christian Bullying” that got a lot of attention.

Sometimes though, it is so easy to focus on the wrongs among the people “out there” rather than the wrongs within ourselves.

This time, the magnifying glass may need to come a little closer to home.

As I wrote the article on “Christian Bullying,” I found myself re-evaluating my own personal actions and attitudes within my home.  I didn’t want to write about a topic about which I myself might be guilty.

There will be times when we will all struggle with the more “common” sins.  A question to be asked is: “Is this sinful attitude present in my heart?” 

If the answer is yes, I need to confess this before the Lord and to truly repent, which means to change the way in which I was going.

The root attitudes behind bullying are pride and fear.  Both of these sinful heart attitudes are very common and at the root of most sins.  Perhaps even all sins. 

Pride and fear work together.  They stem from the same lie.

Since both pride and fear are very common sinful attitudes, it’s a VERY good chance that those same sinful attitudes are prevalent in our own hearts and influence our own actions from time-to-time.

As I allowed God’s Holy Spirit to reveal my own attitudes to me, I began to see more clearly that “bullying” can be a lot closer to home than I might want to admit. 

I began to hear God’s “quiet voice” (Holy Spirit) speaking to my heart to reveal that I need to be cleaning out my own “closets”, “pantries”, and “sock drawers.” 

It’s easy for us to be so busy pointing out the flaws in our husbands, kids, relatives, and other Christians that we avoid looking at our own personal wrong attitudes and wrong actions.

Why do we shy away from that which is uncomfortable?  Fear? 

Why do we fear God’s “scalpel” that seeks to remove all the “dead growth” in our lives, all the “infectious wounds” from past hurts and lies?  Again, is it because we fear our wrong version of God?  Do we think that by admitting our sin(s), we will be forever condemned?

God knows of our sins.  He is All-Knowing!

Isn’t that the definition of “God” — that He is the most Powerful and All-Knowing Being?  If He knows about our sins already, how does our attempts to hide them help our case at all? 

Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden.  When they sinned for the first time, they discovered that the “knowing”, Satan (in the snake) promised, was a crushing awareness and personal acquaintance with their own sin.  They “knew” what sin is and the debilitating guilt and fear that accompanies it. 

Adam and Eve had sought life outside of God and found death instead.

God had given them every tree in the Garden of Eden to eat, including the Tree of Life, EXCEPT for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Just like the rest of humanity is often guilty of, Adam and Eve chose to eat the one thing they were told not to eat.  They chose to find “life” outside of God. 

Adam and Eve had disconnected themselves from their true Source of Life and had instead looked to the Knowledge of Good and Evil as its source. 

So much of “religion” stems from that same tree“Religion” is often about trying to find our “spiritual life” from a knowledge of good and evil.  That knowledge will either lead us to personally feeling condemned and living in fear, or it will lead to a proud and/or judgmental attitude — that we are better than those around us or that we are our own source of defining what is good and not good.  The roots are the same.

When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed!  Their world changed.  Death entered.  Their fellowship with God was hurt.

Then Jesus came.

God’s plan was to send a Savior to fix the problems that started when sin first entered.  

The Savior would connect man back into the True Source of Life (an intimate relationship with God Himself) and would work to separate man from his false “roots” of security (Knowledge of Good & Evil).

The Savior would neither leave the sinner condemned nor condone the “weeds” of sin but would work to replace fear with peace and faith, to replace pride with delighting in God’s character and who we are in Him.

Neither pride nor fear can be present when we are walking in an intimate relationship and understanding of God and Who He is and Who we are in Him.

There is no room for condemning others when we truly understand Who God is.  There is no room for fear when we personally know God.

Fear and pride come when we are disconnected from God — when we seek to find “life” outside of God.

We hang onto these “rags” when God wants to give us the richness of His grace!

Those bullies in our closet, those rags in our drawers, those dirt piles in our corners … let’s open the doors and the drawers and turn on the lights.  It’s time we stopped trying to hide and cover our shame and allow God to purify and heal us from the inside out! 

God’s plan was never to leave us hidden in the dark or to leave us condemned by our own guilt.  His plan was always to reconnect us to our True Source of Life! 

As we are “connected” to Life, we can become a true “channel” to the world around us for God’s love and light to flow. 

“How I praise Thee, precious Saviour,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

“Channels only, blessèd Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.

“Just a channel full of blessing,
To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation
All Thy loving message sound.

“Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.”

By Mary Maxwell

Christian Bullying

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The topic I am about to address may incite a lot of strong emotions and opinions.  The subject matter, though negative, nevertheless is something that is worth addressing.

Bullying is considered a serious offense in today’s public arenas.  Thanks to the tenacious lobbying efforts of its past victims, its danger is being recognized and addressed.

Bullying has been identified rightfully as a nefarious conduct in the secular arena.  The religious sector though is a different matter.

Bullying in the Christian sector has taken virtuous sounding names such as “authority”, “leadership”, “submission”, “obedience”, “spiritual guidance” and perverted those names to mean something different than their original design and definitions.  Insidious abuses of these words have spread their nocuous modus operandi to the devastation of their victims.

The religious sector often attaches a “spiritual” name to a personal action and/or personal belief system and think the name somehow makes the action and belief more acceptable.  They then use that personal belief to pressure others to adopt the same standards.

The belief and action may not be actually Scripturally-validated, but because the word chosen to describe the belief is from the Scriptures, the belief or action itself is accepted as being “Scriptural.”  Not enough time and research is dedicated to the actual Scriptural meanings and applications of these words to recognize the difference.

The secular sector has recognized many of the abuses of the above terms within the religious sector.  The result has been that words like “authority”, “submission”, “obedience” are by association often considered negative.

The secular sector has reacted.  Wedding vows often emit the word “submission.”  Parental authority and discipline is often challenged.  Even the word “no” has been considered too constricting and negative to use in response to a child’s wrong behavior.

The problem is not with the correct usages of these words.  The problem is with its abuses.

The perfidious nature of bullying is that it uses coercion, deception, and intimidation to control its victims.  The greater the bully, the greater is the arsenal of weapons it uses to manipulate.

The danger with all deception is its very nature.  Deception is often very subtle in its moves.  It often parallels the truth or is sometimes so close to the truth, that the difference is hardly distinguishable.  That is why the lie is so believable. 

Deception is often truth with some error added to it. 

Christian bullying produces a lot of the same negative results as any other type of bullying: intimidation, fear, guilt, judgmental attitude, pride, false sense of self-righteousness, attempts to prove self-worth or self-righteousness.  There is a spirit of striving and much effort on the part of the victims to attempt to prove themselves.  The motivation of their efforts is fear.

Bullying manifests itself in social pressure to adhere to someone else’ standards or to pressure someone else to adhere to your own personal standards.  It’s more about finding acceptance than it is about encouraging one another to grow in a personal relationship with God.  It’s an attitude that disrespects others.

The “victims” are condemned and live with guilt if they do not completely adhere to all beliefs within the system.

Note: this is to be separated from those who are overly sensitive to anything that speaks of “rights” and “wrongs” and therefore overly react and judge any rule or principal as “judgmental”.  This is speaking of attitudes that are smug in their condemnation of those who are “less.

There is a sense of our efforts equal our worth or our “spiritual” performance merits our standing before God.  In other words, “how we perform equals God’s love for us.” If we perform well, He loves us well.  If we perform poorly, God’s love for us is also affected.  This is not necessarily clearly stated in words but strongly implied.  Subtle.  Very subtle error that wreaks havoc!

Christian bullying uses a combination of man-made rules along with some Scriptural principles, thrown in for validation, in order to indoctrinate its victims.  Again subtle but insidious!

Practical applications of these errors can be seen in specific attitudes:

  • Men are viewed as superior to women.
  • Wives are thought of as not needing respect — only romance.  The “romance” is often bestowed with “favors” for the husband as the ultimate result.
  • If a wife challenges a husband’s decision, she is immediately viewed as “unsubmissive”.
  • Children and pregnancies are used as objects to control the wife.
  • Women are encouraged to be uneducated.
  • Children must obey every rule dictated by the parents without question.  (Children should be taught to not question everything.  The subtle difference here is that children are not allowed to have a divergent view from their parents.)
  • Different view-points are not tolerated within the home.
  • Pastors of these types of systems are viewed as the final authority.
  • Anyone who disagrees or does not fully comply with the system is subtlely discredited and dismissed.
  • Leaders within these movements are held up on a “pedestal”.  There is little or no accountability.  The leaders’ “accountability” are often family members and perhaps a few others who are intimidated or brainwashed into maintaining favorability.
  • An individual’s salvation is frequently questioned if all their beliefs don’t match up with the system’s beliefs (these beliefs are specifically unrelated to salvation itself).
  • “Spirituality” is judged by outward appearances: family size, dress standards, music standards, educational choices, etc…
  • Past sins are regularly held against the questioning individual and/or used to manipulate that individual.
  • Individuals within this system find their “faith” is more about struggling to achieve a feeling of “spirituality” then it is about growing in an intimate (personal knowledge/experience) with God.
  • Husbands can also be constantly criticized and belittled, if viewed as spiritually lacking.
  • Children are treated as inferior to adults.  (Their opinions are not treated as important as the parents’.  Children have much to learn from their parents.  The subtle difference here is the attitude.)
  • Discipline is enacted through “righteous” anger (can take forms of belittling, disciplining in anger, and a parent feeling personally offended).
  • The focus of discipline is on correcting wrongs rather than on discipling the child and restoring the relationship.
  • Adult children are treated as children, needing parental control.
  • Insecurity is familiar  to the “weaker” members.
  • Pride is considered confidence to the “stronger” members.
  • Those who are “higher up” in the chain of authority are deceptive when it comes to their own personal sins but require those under them to be completely transparent for “healing”.
  • It is felt as necessary to address any supposed or actual sins seen among others.
  • Those who are guilty of bullying feel it necessary to act as the “Holy Spirit” towards those they view as weaker Christians.
  • God’s judgement is emphasized over His grace.
  • God is related to as a vengeful God rather than a forgiving God.  The key is “related to”.
  • Salvation doctrine focuses more on God’s wrath and our depraved condition — rather than on teaching God’s love that offers salvation freely because we are in need of a Savior.  (More could be said on this.)

Many more examples could be given, but time will not lend itself to so lengthy a list.  Suffice it to say, the above examples are tragic situations!  They are harmful both to the victims and to the bullies.

There is a movement of people being awakened to the harmful nature of bullying within the religious sector.  There are still many though who are deceived within the systems where Christian bullying is present.

God, though desires healing for mankind.  The healing starts with His people.  He says,

2 Chronicles 7:14

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

In order for Christians to positively impact our world, we must have that which is different from the world: truth!

It starts with having a proper understanding of God’s nature and our relationship before Him.

We first must recognize that He wants to heal our brokenness, to transform our darkness, to replace our emptiness with his life and love!

God is not the author of evilHe is a righteous God, who only wants what is best for us! 

The truth is always right for us.  At the time, it might be painful because it may mean releasing our hold on false traditions.  Traditions, though perhaps wrong, can give a sense of security.  The familiar, no matter how dangerous or duplicitous, often feels like the safest thing to do or place to be at the time.  Subtle manipulation.

God though asks us to allow His healing “light” of truth to shine into our dark places in order to not just expose them but to cleanse, repair, and transform them!  The exposing is not for condemnation; it is for our redemption. 

As long as we hold onto our “rags” of hurts, abuses, and times when we too have been the “abuser”, we cannot open our hands to receive the richness of His grace offered freely to us.

God brings us to repentance not for the purpose of leaving us condemned.  His purpose is to help us recognize that we need help so we seek and then receive it. 

A doctor may diagnose a patient with an illness and prescribe medication.  Unless the patient acknowledges the illness and his need for the medication and then seeks to obtain the medication, the patient will not benefit from the doctor’s diagnosis.  The purpose of the doctor’s diagnosis is to orchestrate all necessary avenues for the patient to receive proper help.

So, it is with God.  He reveals our natural state in its broken and flawed condition and then works to orchestrate all channels possible to encourage its absolute and comprehensive healing.

God’s love has never been about our worthiness.  It has always been about the fact that He is Love.  Love is “love” by its very Nature — not reliant upon the nature of its recipients.

The very nature of God’s Love and the fact that we were created to be His sons and daughters is what gives us meaning and purpose!  As a result of that love, we freely and lovingly seek a closer relationship with the One Who loves us so completely and unconditionally.

Love Is Simple

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I am going to keep this simple because a lot of times that’s all we have time and energy for — simple instructions and simple ideas. 

I wanted to share some quick ideas on how to show your kids that you love them.

What your kids care the most about is whether or not you love them.  So just love them!

Here are some simple ideas on how to demonstrate your love:

First, always tell them.

Second, demonstrate it by giving an appropriate hug and kiss.  For some kids, it might mean a back rub, tickle-time, or chasing them around like a dinosaur.

Discover your kids’ love languages, and use that knowledge to enhance their perceptions of your love. 

At the end of last week, I decided to do a simple but fun activity that also used my knowledge of their love languages.  I took a post-it-note and wrote a specific message on the note for each child.  I then attached the notes to the undersides of their dinner plates.

The kids loved finding their notes and then carrying out the instructions on the individual notes.  It was a simple but fun way to demonstrate to my kids that they are loved.  The activity also taught the kids practically how they could also express love to one another.  (I will post pictures of the notes so you get the idea…)

It’s important to let your kids know you love them, but expressing that doesn’t need to be complicated.  Keep it simple but love them!

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Valentine’s Day — The Holiday That Evokes Some Of Our Strongest Emotions

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.  Some of us may be madly scrambling to buy last-minute cards, chocolates, roses, and/or other gifts.

For some, it may mean scrambling to try to find someone special so that once again it’s not a lonely holiday filled with meaningless and painful trivia.

For others, it may be a day full of painful reminders that a loved one is no longer present in the home.

For others, it might be a mockery of dreams once held through dewy-eyed innocence that have been crushed.

Valentine’s Day can be painful.  Not because the day itself has any power to inflict pain but because of what the day represents to so many: a day to remember that we are loved passionately and are important to someone else.  When the presence of love is not seen, the day becomes one more reminder of our loss.

Love gives our days meaning.  Without it, the world loses its sparkle and colors wash out in a dreary blend of grays.  Without love, days become a meaningless cycle of obscurity, repetition, and mindless boredom.

Without love, we will seek to find fulfillment and meaning in some other means of satisfaction or purpose: stardom, fortune, titles.  None of these things are bad in and of themselves.  The problem is when we give up on love: being loved and giving love.  That’s when, we find ourselves in an endless struggle to achieve, to exert, to live, to be. 

The key here is struggle.  A struggle because we are not at peace within ourselves.  Why are we not at peace?  Because we are missing the key ingredient to truly living: LOVE.

Without love, we can go through the motions of living, but we are a mere shell of what we could and can be.

Love is the color, the passion, the expression, the emotion, the music that flavors our world.  It is what heightens our senses and can leave them crashing to the depths.

Some of us are too afraid to allow love into our hearts because poor imitations of it have come before and left us “bleeding” inside.  The “crashes” seem much more real then the “heights” of love ever were.

Perhaps, the greatest problem with “love” is that it isn’t LOVE at all.

There are such poor imitations and abuses of the word “love.”  Its meaning has become trivial, selfish, abusive in its interpretation.  The truth is that what is often called “love” isn’t LOVE at all.

Love isn’t about two people finding pleasure together.  Love isn’t about an attempt of finding something that gives me a sense of worth or fulfillment.  Love isn’t a self-centered effort.  It’s not about trying to establish a sense of worth in order to be its beneficiary.  Nor is it an attempt to establish someone else’ worth before bestowing it upon their worthy selves.

Love isn’t about finding someone or something to gratify my lack of self-worth.

Love isn’t a fickle emotion.

Love is more than sentiment.  Love is more than gifts.  Love is more than a relationship.

Love can be demonstrated through the proper expression of its proper sentiment.  Love can be indicated through heart-felt gifts.  True love is not just the fact that two or more people have some type of relationship.

True love is what defines the relationship.  True love is the relationship.

True love isn’t earned.  It is given. 

True Love is found in its very Nature.  In its purest forms, displayed among living creatures, it is an imitation of the Embodiment of Love Itself.  When we understand LOVE, we are accurately able to exhibit its nature in our interactions with others. 

We cannot scrupulously display the nature of something that we ourselves don’t understand.  We cannot understand something competently that we ourselves don’t perceive.

We understand there is something called “love” and that is why we write books about it, why we try to define it, why we try to demonstrate it, why we yearn for it.  We wouldn’t know about it if there wasn’t a “form” of it that exists. 

The knowledge of something comes from the fact of either its presence or of its notable absence.

For example, life speaks of action.  There is some action taking place within an organism that defines it as “living.”  The absence of life describes death. Death is defined by its opposition to life.

We experience passions that indicate the presence of love and life, even if they’re parodies of the authentic.

Authentic love exists.

Love is the positive action.  It is the emotion that brings joy and peace.

Love is the gift that is not based on any calculations of worthiness.

Love is the meaning of life. 

This is why when its absence is felt, the results are so serious.  Notice, I said “felt”.  We may feel that love is absent.  It may be absent from the people around us, definitely from the things around us.

An unborn baby does not see its mother.  The womb of the mother is what cocoons the unborn baby — nourishes it, protects it, until the baby is ready to embrace life in a fuller measure.  Because the unborn baby does not see its mother does not negate the fact that the mother does exist and is in fact giving it life.

We are much like an unborn baby in this world.  We receive life every day: the air we breathe, the ability to breathe.  Yet we often do not fully comprehend what Love really is.  It surrounds us and gives us life.  It sustains it.  Yet, we don’t recognize that which has given us life because we are looking to the “channels” by which it “flows” as being its origin.  

Love is the Greater Force behind life itself.  Love is the origin of life.

The very fact we live is proof that we are loved!  The moment we die does not mean we are not loved any more.  We are given opportunity to then experience love in its purest, undiluted form.  The Creator of life is the origin of Love.  The action and emotion of LOVE is the expression of the Being of LOVE: God.  God as Love Himself generously pours His love out upon us.  He wants us to recognize His love that surrounds us daily.  His love is what gives us life, meaning.  He invites us to experience that perfect, unadulterated embodiment of Love for eternity. 

The unborn baby exists because of life inside the womb but then experiences a greater measure of it outside the womb.  So, this present life is where we experience love and life; but the greater perspicacity of it is found completely in Eternity, offered to us by the very Being of Love and Life.

For this Valentine’s Day to mean more than whether or not someone gave us a special gift, wrote us a special card, or made us feel worthy, we must let go of the imitations and recognize the authenticity of Love that gives us life today!

In releasing ones hold on the imitation, one finds the authentic is transcendent.

No Pinterest Or Glam Mom Here!

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I don’t take award-winning photographs of my gorgeous, athletic, brilliant kids; my ribbon-merit baking creations; award-winning artistic renditions; and Pinterest-worthy home.  In fact, if I was trying to take pictures of those accomplishments, I would probably be waiting a long time.  A very long time!

Oh, my kids are adorable, smart, active, creative!  Definitely to me!  I love them though not because of some trait or ability I feel they must possess to be accolade-worthy.  I love them because of who they are — not because of what they have or what they do.  I love them because they are themselves.  They are my children!  It’s that simple.  Yet, it’s not simple at all.  It’s really quite profound!

I gaze at my kids and every day think how amazing and miraculous they are!  How amazing and miraculous it is that I am their mom!  I am grateful.

As a mom, there is a part of me that really aches when others don’t see my kids through the same eyes as myself.  I “bleed” a little inside when my kid tells me that he is ugly, that he’s the last kid to be picked for football teams, that he never wins any of the creative days at school for dress.  I “bleed” not because those things are so important but because my son is so important to me, and he has so much worth and he doesn’t see it.  I try to tell him that his worth isn’t based on the fickle opinions of others.

In fact, I have reached out to a lot of his school buddies, invited them over.  It’s fun to hear them greet me when they see me.  My favorite line though I like to say is, “Hi, handsome!”  I am not trying to establish an over-emphasis on the outward appearance.  Yet, all kids need to know that they are something special!  I focus on everything about them: their God-given talents and abilities, their own special unique features, and the fact that they are precious to me!

Even more importantly, I like to focus on the inside person.  I call selfishness and sinful behavior as ugly but call good and loving behavior as lovely.  I tell them that you can be considered “pretty” or “handsome” on the outside but be selfish, mean, angry on the inside.  I told them that those things will make a person “ugly.”

When the boys and I have talks about girls, I encourage my boys to look for a woman who is beautiful on the inside to be their future wives.  I then encourage them to be the kind of man that that kind of woman will want to marry.

I am a simple mom.  I am not an amazing cook.  I don’t knit.  I don’t sew.  My house isn’t Pinterest-worthy, but it’s my home.  We are slowly fixing it up to where I really like the way it looks.  It’s comfortable, homey, warm, and even charming at times.  It’s basically clean and fairly organized.  It’s not magazine-worthy, but it’s my home.  It’s the place where my family and I make memories.  It’s where we love, work, create memories, and learn to forgive and be forgiven.  It’s real.  There’s no pretense in the home.  Some times, I am thankful that I know that I have God who is watching me that is pleased with an action I just took.  At other times, I wish that no one: not a child, spouse, or God had seen a certain attitude or heard unkind words I had uttered that day.

There are times, I bow my head with shame because I wasn’t the mom God created me to be.  I wasn’t the mom my kids deserve.  I wasn’t the mom I want to be.  It’s for these moments that I pray.  I pray over my children — that God would heal the areas in my kids hearts that hurt because of something unkind I said or did.  I pray that God would continue to work in me to help me to be more humble and more obedient to his voice.  I pray that God would “cover” my kids with His grace in areas that I can’t. 

I look at myself and see this average person.  I don’t have an Einstein I.Q.  I don’t excel in the arts or sports.  I don’t have model-looks.  I am not a mom that is everyone’s hero.  I am just me.

Yet, when I see myself as God sees me, I realize the rest of all of that doesn’t matter.  God loves me because I am His.  I am His daughter!  I am unique!  There is no one else on this planet and universe that will ever be identical to me — in the past, present, or future! 

You and I will leave our own stamps on this life that will never be completely repeated.  I wish we could just wrap our minds and our hearts around that incredible truth just a little more.

Because the more I understand the meaning of my life, the better I am able to appreciate the meanings of others!